England fall flat as Root is run out in opening 'duel' with Kohli
Duelling died out in Britain in the early Victorian era. The last known duel took place on the cricket ground at Englefield Green, between two Frenchmen, in 1852. The practice was revived, however, after tea yesterday.
At the cricket ground of Edgbaston. England's captain Joe Root and India's captain Virat Kohli took up their positions at a distance of 50 paces.
Honour, as usual in duels, was at stake. Root, on completing his century in the Headingley one-dayer to seal the series 2-1 for England, had thrown down his bat like a stage performer concluding a triumphant show.
Kohli demanded satisfaction: such a celebration is not in the gentlemanly traditions of cricket.
No sabres or pistols were involved, only a cricket ball, and one shot from Kohli was enough. He took aim and, even though falling backwards, scored a direct hit that pierced the heart of England's captain, intent as he had been on converting a 50 into a century for once. Kohli blew kisses in Root's direction and pretended to drop a microphone.
It would be a fool who tried to imitate either, as he would not have the panache to carry it off.
In accordance with duels, Root had a second: a fellow Yorkshireman, Jonny Bairstow.
On this occasion, however, Bairstow was more use to Root's adversary. Bairstow reckoned he could take two runs for his push to the right of mid-wicket and, being so fleet of foot, he made it home. Not Root, though he dived for his crease before biting the dust.
England were easing into fourth gear at 216 for three, when either Root or Bairstow should have realised there was only a single to be had to India's finest-ever fielder; and minutes later England were holed amidships at 224 for six.
Neither Mark Stoneman nor James Vince was present to tell the tale of the first day of England's previous five-Test series, against Australia.
There again it was a run-out, a misjudgement, a self-inflicted error that brought the house down. The moment before Vince called Stoneman for a single into the covers, England were 127 for one and sailing, almost soaring.
After Nathan Lyon had scored, with another direct hit at the bowler's end, England resembled "the rest" in being history and finished with a 285 for nine total.
Meanwhile Ireland have been invited to send a team to the Hong Kong Sixes tournament in October. A squad featuring Kevin O'Brien and Paul Stirling reached the quarter-finals of the annual event in 2011 on the only occasion the Irish have previously taken part.
- England v India, Live, Sky Sports, 11.0